Doing business in Slovakia: Court structure



Slovakia has 54 district courts, eight regional courts and a Supreme Court. The district courts have separate boards for civil and criminal cases. The regional and the Supreme Court has separate boards for civil, criminal, commercial and administrative cases. The Supreme Court is the highest court except on constitutional issues. The 13-member Constitutional Court is an entirely independent judicial body upholding constitutional rights.

There is also a Special Court, dealing with criminal cases of corruption, and a separate military court system, with appeals also heard by the Supreme Court.

Bringing a claim

As a general rule, civil cases are begun in the district court and appeals are heard by the regional court. Certain cases, such as those involving administrative law or disputes over social security regulations, are begun in the regional court with appeals heard by the Supreme Court. Some cases involving administrative law may be begun in the Supreme Court but this is uncommon. Claims must usually be brought in the district court for the district:

  • where the defendant resides or has its head office
  • where any disputed real estate is located
  • at the claimant’s option, where the event giving rise to the claim took place. For example, a claim about trading on a stock exchange could be brought in the district court where the exchange has its head office.
  • as stipulated by law (not usual in commercial cases).

Cases are usually decided by a trial attended by all parties. However, an expedited procedure can be used in monetary claims such as payment warrants, which can be decided in the absence of both parties on the basis of the claimant’s petition and any accompanying documentary evidence.

Bankruptcy proceedings may be brought against individual or corporate debtors who are unable to satisfy their debts to numerous creditors within 30 days. The proceedings are brought in one of 8 district courts (one for each region of Slovakia) and allow the court to take control of the debtor’s property situation with a view to satisfying his creditors in full or in part.

Court composition

Cases begun in the district and regional courts are heard by a single judge. A few, rare, cases are decided by a senate (usually three judges). The Supreme Court of Slovakia acts and decides always through senates (usually three but occasionally five judges). Criminal cases in the district courts are decided by a judge, usually sitting with other lay judges.

Court fees

In commercial cases, the claimant (petitioner) must pay a court fee equal to 6% of the value of the claim, with a minimum fee of SKK 2,000 and a maximum fee of SKK 1,000,000.

Appeal and review

Decisions of the first instance court may be appealed (except for certain procedural decisions). Appeals must be filed within 15 days from the date of the delivery of the first instance decision.

Appeal decisions cannot be appealed and take effect from the date of delivery to the participants. In extraordinary circumstances, they may be reviewed by reopening, extraordinary appeal or special extraordinary appeal. The most common form of review is an extraordinary appeal, which is heard by the Supreme Court and must be filed within one month after the original appeal decision. The law specifies when it may be used: most commonly, where there have been procedural errors (for example, in the court’s composition, or where the proceedings were initiated without a requisite petition or where the dispute has already been decided in another case).

Enforcement of court judgments

Court judgments are enforced either by execution of the court or by distraint by a court distrainer. The court distrainer will execute money judgments by deducting them from salary, sale of personal property and real estate or an order to settle a receivable. Enforcement of non-pecuniary judgments can be by orders to vacate real estate, give up an asset, divide something jointly owned or perform a required task (e.g. paint a picture).

Enforcement of foreign judgments

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments is governed by statute. In general, the courts in Slovakia recognise all judgments, albeit with restrictions in some cases. Judgments of courts in other EU countries are recognised and enforced in accordance with EU law.


Where parties wish to use mediation to settle a civil, commercial, employment or family dispute out of court, the Ministry of Justice maintains a register of independent mediators who have completed professional training. Mediation centres have also been set up to provide fair conditions for settling disputes. Settlements achieved by mediation are binding and can be enforced provided they have been documented and either notarised or approved by a court.


Where parties have agreed to use arbitration to resolve a local or cross-border dispute in Slovakia, their agreement will usually specify an arbitral court, such as the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industries. Slovakia is a signatory to the New York convention, so Slovakian courts will both recognise and enforce arbitral awards made in any of the other signatory countries, except in specified circumstances.